Rep. Ken Buck, serving on the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees, recently addressed the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) in a letter after discovering that two affiliated US-based nonprofits have concealed donor details in their tax forms. The UK-based GDI has been scrutinized for blacklisting conservative news outlets from advertising platforms.
We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.
GDI is linked to the US-based public charity Disinformation Index Inc. and the private organization AN Foundation, also referred to as the Disinformation Index Foundation. In their 2021 tax forms, both groups withheld information about donors, officers, and board members, claiming federal exemption due to harassment, the Washington Examiner found.
GDI’s lawyer, Marcus Owens, explained that these actions were taken to protect personnel and their families from threats and hacking attacks.
In his letter, Rep. Buck demanded that GDI CEO Clare Melford produce a “complete and unredacted list of donors” for both US-based organizations, asserting that the concealed information obstructs the public’s understanding of potential conflicts of interest and ideological leanings. He emphasized that American taxpayers deserve to know the composition of organizations that could impact their freedom of speech.
The GDI faced criticism in February when it was revealed that the organization supplied blacklists of right-leaning websites to advertisers. In March, Rep. Buck questioned both the State Department and the federally-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which financed the GDI.
Despite the AN Foundation receiving $115,000 in contributions in 2021, it did not disclose its donors.
The IRS declined to comment on whether it had granted the groups the harassment exemption. Rep. Buck’s letter sought a “full explanation” for the redacted donor information and asked the two organizations to commit to providing unredacted information to the IRS while receiving federal funding.
Interestingly, the GDI has previously demanded transparency from media outlets. In a December 2022 report, the organization accused certain media outlets of maintaining “opaque ownership structures,” making it difficult to identify conflicts of interest. The New York Post, for example, was labeled a “high risk” outlet due to its “lack of operational policies and practices.”